Gartner Says...


Gartner has just announced the publication of a report which says that “Thought Leadership Marketing Can Be a Powerful Tool for IT Services Providers” and is “rapidly becoming an established field within marketing.”

I’m glad Gartner has recognized thought leadership marketing as an important phenomenon, though I’d point out that it’s been around a while already. It began in management consulting with the publication of McKinsey Quarterly in 1964, and took off in IT services about 15 years ago. You can read a brief history of thought leadership marketing here.

Gartner defines Thought Leadership Marketing as “The giving—for free or at a nominal charge—of information or advice that a client will value so as to create awareness of the outcome that a company’s product or service can deliver, in order to position and differentiate that offering and stimulate demand for it.”

If I were John Cleese in a cheese shop I might ask them to “Explain pray, the logic underlying that conclusion,” (Here at 4:15.) because I think it’s wrong.

Chris Koch has in the past pointed out that thought leadership marketing is not about promoting an offering. I agree. And I’d add that there are several studies prove it. A 2008 TechTarget study showed, for instance, that nearly two thirds of IT buyers have been disappointed with white papers because they are too product focused.

Also, “…or at a nominal charge?” We have long suspected and we now know that anyone who is asked to fill in a form in order to access a company’s pearls of wisdom is about 20 times less likely to proceed than if they are not (you can read comments by dozens of IT pros on the topic here.) Charging anything at all (for marketing material) is not an option.

You can’t apparently get the Gartner report without filling in a form and paying for it. So the decision for me is, pay for the report, or watch the cheese shop sketch again on YouTube—free?  For me, the cheese wins.


Submitted by Visitor on

Tom -

An immediate turn off is the requirement that I share my contact information, and thus expose myself to direct selling, in order to read/hear what a vendor has to say.  I almost never do this.

Separately, one of the supposed roles of firms like Gartner, at least the original idea, was to produce white papers, thought leadership, that was not vendor-marketing influenced much less written.  Now the reality, generally and cynically accepted, is that the best way to get a good position in a research firm's analysis is to hire them to "advise" you.  Certainly inside tech. vendors there is a view that firms like Gartner are less credible than they should be.  Sometimes this is sour grapes but everyone is eating those grapes.

I agree, again, with David Meerman Scott.  Nobody cares about my products but me and if I want to do thought based marketing I have to be willing to let the thought based discussion go where the market will take it.  I have to participate but stop trying to contort and control it.

Doug Brockway

Submitted by Tim Parker on

Doug, wholly agree. In a recent article we have talked about how marketers must move to marketing through unbiased channels - those they can't control and which are adjudicated by their peers and customers. Perhaps Boomers are more inlcined to look to "authorities" for guidance, though they were less that way inclined than the "traditionalists" before them. Gen-Ys are even less inclined that way - they look to their peers. So there is no controlling the conversation any more.

Submitted by Visitor on

Wow!  Gartner are really exposing their lack of knowledge and experience here.  Completely agree with your assessment.

Paul Gladen

Add new comment